Protecting Your Assets, Rights, Best Interests and Financial Future during Divorce
Marital property is much more than pots and pans, your car, and the contents of your closet. There are many complex assets that people may earn and receive during a marriage including such things as Pension plans, investments, real estate, and even business holdings. All of these things are an important consideration in planning your financial future.
The complex issues that have to be considered in dividing marital property is not solely high-value or complex assets. Many assets such as future valuations of retirement plans, pension plans and future income streams have to be considered in ensuring that your future financial needs are met and planned for. In some marriages, there are complex assets such as deferred compensation, year-end or delayed bonuses, pending stock options, restricted stock options or units, among other similar assets. In some cases, unless they have been discussed, a spouse will not even be aware of the property or financial benefits the other spouse has earned during the marriage through employment based compensation. In some cases, it can be very substantial.
Identifying, characterizing and achieving collaborative resolutions to property valuation, and division is often a complicated issue. You need a qualified and experienced legal professional who has knowledge about these issues so that you don’t leave money “on the table” at the time of the divorce. At Pingel Family Law, we can help you and your family successfully divide your assets and ensure you receive all of the assets you are entitled to. Whether you have earned the assets or spent many years supporting the home by being a home-maker, caring for the children and supporting your spouse’s career, you are entitled to your share of the marital assets earned and acquired during the marriage. Let our law firm help make sure you receive what you deserve!
Our goal is to cost-effectively help you resolve marital property division issues and save you time and money.
At Pingel Family Law it is our goal to combine our experience and knowledge in dealing with property and asset division, along with the skills and knowledge of other professionals to maximize your success and ensure that you receive an excellent outcome. At Pingel Family Law we work with professionals to implement asset protection strategies regarding marital property, when needed.
To achieve a fair settlement or outcome through trial when needed, we have worked with many experts including:
- Stock and bond experts
- Real estate appraisers
- Business evaluators
- Pension valuators
- Forensic accountants;
- Art, collectible, classic car and other appraisers;
1. What Does Equitable Distribution Mean in a Divorce Case?
Equitable distribution is the dividing marital and divisible property through the legal process of either a settlement through mediation or a trial date. In the best case scenario, you and your spouse would come to agreements about the division of your marital property, however, many spouses cannot come to an agreement and if that happens, the court has a hearing where the court helps to determine an equitable division of your assets and debts.
Does an equitable division of property mean a 50/50 split of assets and debts? In many cases, it does, but there are cases when a 50-50 split or division of assets would be inequitable or unfair. When the court divisions property through a divorce or dissolution, they generally consider many factors including the following:
- Each spouse’s income, asset and debts;
- The length of the marriage and each spouse’s age and earning capacity;
- The ways each spouse directly or indirectly helped to acquire marital property and/or the educational and earning capacity of the other spouse;
- The custody arrangements of the children and the need for the custodial parent to remain in the marital home with the children;
- Marital misconduct;
- One spouse’s dissipation or wasting of marital assets;
- One spouse’s efforts to secret away or hide marital assets;
2. How do I know how much my marital property is worth and what is marital property?
When dividing property, the courts generally classify property as follows:
This category includes any income, assets, property, and debts that you accumulated during the marriage. Marital property can include wages, pension and retirement funds, investment accounts, real estate, personal property, mortgages, car loans, and credit card bills.
Separate or Non-Marital Property
Typically, this is property that your spouse does not get a portion or share of. This can include your pre-marital assets and debts as well as things acquired during the marriage through gift or inheritance that were given to one spouse.
It’s also important to note that separate or non-marital property can become marital property if it is transmuted, meaning converted in nature. This can occur if it is comingled with marital assets or if you re-title the property into the joint names of both of you and your spouse. These are obviously complex issues that you will need to discuss with your lawyer in great detail.
3. Can a Prenuptial or Antenuptial (also known as post-nuptial) Agreement Protect My Assets?
Nuptial agreements can occur either before (prenuptial) or during a marriage (postnuptial). In a nuptial agreement, you and your spouse come to agreement about marital and separate property and ultimately, how it will be divided if you and your spouse choose to part ways. Nuptial agreements have the possibility of simplifying a divorce case process, however, not every agreement is considered valid. There are times that you or your spouse might elect to contest the validity of an agreement.
4. Who Gets to Stay in Our House?
If you have minor or dependent children, generally the parent that is responsible for the primary care of the children or the physical custody of the children is given preference in staying in the family home to allow the children to have stability as the divorce case progresses forward. However, the spouse remaining in the home will need to review finances to determine if it is feasible for him or her to maintain the family home based on the anticipated future budget of that spouse. Sometimes, the best option for both parties is to sell the marital/family home and divide the proceeds.
5. My Spouse’s Behavior Caused Our Divorce- they engaged in marital fault, had affairs, wasted or dissipated money? Am I able to get more than half of the money?
While the Courts will listen to concerns about fault-based issues, generally, the fault has to have had a substantial impact on the marriage for the court to believe it is equitable to give the “innocent spouse” additional marital property based on the other spouse’s behavior. Fault or misconduct can often effect considerations of maintenance, child custody and attorney fees, as well.
If you’re considering a separation or your spouse recently filed for divorce or you believe you need to file for divorce, it is crucial that you understand your legal options and how preparation and planning may affect a positive outcome. At Pingel Family Law, our respected divorce lawyers can help guide you through difficult issues with compassion. Contact us. We’re here to help when you need us.
At Pingel Family Law, we will help you handle every part of the property division component of your divorce case so you won’t feel alone in trying to get a handle on your family finances. We will also help guide you to ensure that your financial future is as secured as possible.
When possible, we will work with you to pursue a negotiated resolution through settlement or mediation to try to find cost-effective solutions to your case. When a fair marital settlement agreement or property settlement agreement is not possible, we are prepared to stand firm to ensure you receive what you are entitled to through the court system.
Contact Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 to let us help you at most your most critical, challenging moments with fairness, dignity and dedication. We are tenacious, determined and passionate about protecting your rights.
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